March 15, 2013

Everybody Loves A Story

Yes, it's true, everybody seems to love a good story. Political, social and and religious leaders have used stories for millennia.

A good story...

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Posted by mmorf at 09:41 PM | Comments (1)

September 19, 2011

Got A Story To Tell?

Everybody seems to like to read or hear stories. Some, or maybe even all of us...

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Posted by mmorf at 10:44 PM | Comments (1)

June 13, 2011

Telling Stories

Know any writers? Know anyone that wants to make some money from their writing? Telling stories is universal, and wouldn't you love to tell your story to readers all around the world? Here's...

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Posted by mmorf at 11:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Whatever you might think of the British Royal family, they certainly dominate the news when it comes to a Royal Wedding. Weddings, at their best, are an intense exercise of...

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Posted by mmorf at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2011

Reading And Writing Is The Best Way To Learn

Reading all kinds of things, from all kinds of writers is a wonderful and always challenging way to learn a language. Thanks to...

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Posted by mmorf at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2011

Global Bicycle Film Festival

I may be a word nerd, but I also love my bicycle. I also love films. So what could be better than...

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Posted by mmorf at 12:06 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2010

Insults From Shakespeare; "You Tread Upon My Patience"

Want to expand your vocabulary, explore some literature and have some fun?

Take a look at Shakespeare's insults. You also might want to...

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August 06, 2010

Word Finders!

My students of all levels seem to like word finders...

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July 06, 2010

Voluntourism - Travel On A Budget - Do Good Work

Want to travel the world but find that you have more time than money? I have found the perfect venture for those who want to travel, do good work, meet interesting people, learn new things, and perhaps most importantly....

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April 28, 2010

Ladle Rat Rotten Hut Revisited - On Stage

There's nothing like seeing the English language performed and mangled beyond recognition. In fact sometimes the mangling makes it more interesting and certainly more fun. There are many familiar stories and fairy tales, but...

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January 18, 2010

Words of the Decade

One of my favorite characteristics of the English language is how we create, mangle, adapt, distort and just plain make up words. Many of these come from popular movies, celebrities, political figures or economic or cultural changes. "Truthiness" for example, was a word that had to happen. It originally came from...

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January 13, 2010

Fictional Languages - Avatar Style

If you think learning a standard language is difficult, try a fictional language. JRR Tolkien created several in his Lord of the Rings series, we heard Klingon in the Star Trek TV and film series, and now there's Avatar...

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December 08, 2009

What's Going On In The World?

In some of my English classes, I don't use a textbook. I use articles and events from newspapers and magazines. My general theme is current events. I find that students...

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November 14, 2009

Writing Stories Together

Everybody loves a good story. Writing can be fun as well as expressive, and writing a story as a group project can be...

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November 08, 2009

Hands-on Language Learning; Writing Your Own Story

For hands-on learners, there is no better way to learn a language than by using it - and using it by writing is probably the best...

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October 29, 2009

Trick or Treat Jib-Jab Style

Yes, I know that Halloween is primarily an American holiday, but it's a fun one, and perfect for language games and other related activities.

There are all kinds of hands-on seasonal related contests, activities and crafts. And, of course, thanks to the internet....

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September 26, 2009

Physical Language - Theatre Games

I love language and words, but sometimes it helps us "register" our meaning if we use actions instead of words. But what if we, as teachers and learners of a new language...

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September 21, 2009

Twenty Questions

To inspire discussions or writing for English learning students, I have found open-ended questions to be a good place to start.

I have found that a little introductory discussion can help a student with a context and a framework to continue developing...

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June 16, 2009

What's Your Ideal International Job?

Is there a particular place you'd like to live? Is there some specific attribute that you'd like to experience - or share....

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May 10, 2009

Preparing Language Teachers for the 21st Century

"Designed for practitioners and researchers involved in the preparation and ongoing professional development of language teachers, LTE 2009 will address the education of teachers of all languages, at all instructional and institutional levels, and in many national and international contexts in which this takes place including: English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) instruction; foreign/modern/world language teaching; bilingual education; immersion education; indigenous and minority language education; and...

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February 27, 2009

British VS American English

Learning a new language is always a daunting challenge. The English language is difficult enough to learn even without the usual differences in accents and regional variations. And then there is the never clear, and always confusing set of differences between British and American….

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February 18, 2009

Swimming with the Dolphins

In many resorts in warm climates, one of the options is to swim with the dolphins. This is sort of like running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain - except much safer - and in water.

I mention it in relation to language learning because...

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February 13, 2009

Happy New Year!

All around the world we have just celebrated the coming of a new year. In the Chinese calender, we have just entered the year of the ox. This is a perfect metaphor for the language learning experience. The ox does its work slowly but steadily.

This is the time of year to reflect and look forward. Where have we been? And where are we....

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February 08, 2009


If you are learning English American-style, you are likely to run into words like this.

This particular word just came to me but....

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February 03, 2009

Voices From The Past - Abbot & Costello and Bono to Lincoln

All of us as learners of any language learn from those who came before us. We absorb words and ideas from every singer, writer, friend or neighbor we encounter.

So what can we learn from historical figures? From comedy teams to political leaders we can learn....

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January 25, 2009

Finding Your Voice


Most students of other languages lack confidence in public speaking of the new language. Shyness is a major barrier to making a language your own.

In essence, the main principle is practice, practice, practice.

But what is a safe and practical way to to do this?

Thanks to the internet there are . . .

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Posted by mmorf at 02:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 15, 2006

Name That Film Warm-Up

Hello again,

A great activity that I find useful for assessing language skills and student interaction, especially the first time a class meets, is to have students write the title of a film on a small sheet of paper or label. Students then exchange these in secret, unable to see the new title they have chosen. They then either affix the label to their shirt or hold the paper in front of them so that classmates can easily view the title, but it remains unknown to the student. Students must then try to guess the title of their film by asking questions to their classmates . . .

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Posted by ESL Lesson Plan at 08:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 23, 2005

Tips & Tricks - Troublesome Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal, Shmasal. Is this the reaction you get when you try to teach verb usage?

Hi all,

I've mentioned this probem on this forum once before but since I got such little feedback on it, I thought I'd bring it up for review once again.

Do your ESL students have a difficult time grasping the concept of phrasal verbs? If so, here’s a great exercise to get them past that “mind block.” I have found that my ESL students hate the idea when I propose it, but are always thankful afterwards because they finally “get it!” . . .

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Posted by msimmons at 10:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

November 24, 2005

Lesson Planning - Impromptu ESL Teaching Demonstrations

"It usually takes me three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech" ~Mark Twain

Hi friends,

Have you ever been asked to give an extemporaneous speech or to perform on the spot? How embarrassing is this if you don't feel prepared?

Presently, this is exactly what's happening in some ESL schools when job applicants are "invited" to an employment interview. Like the ESL students who are often asked to demonstrate their English language abilities (so that they can be properly placed), potential ESL teachers can also be expected to be held to a similar standard by demonstrating their teaching ability. Plus, if the ESL school has organized these interviews wisely, they could theoretically charge students for a pre-semester session of ESL classes while getting some free labor from their ESL instructor applicants (let's hope that schools aren't really doing this!) . . .

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November 14, 2005

Lesson Planning - Encouraging ESL Students to Talk

"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names" ~ John F. Kennedy

Hello everyone,

Ever wonder what to do on the first day of class? Nervous about remembering new students' names? Well, the first day of class is the perfect opportunity to satisfy both of these apprehensions.

In the last newsletter (here), I offered one of the first-day-of-class lessons I like to use in the ESL classroom . . .

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Posted by lhobbs at 04:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (4)

November 06, 2005

Workplace Issues - ESL & PowerPoint Presentations

"Professors known as outstanding lecturers do two things; they use a simple plan and many examples." ~ W. McKeachie

Dear Readers,

If my memory doesn't fail me, it seems that the business types latched on to this technology first, the publishing field being no exception. The administrative branch of the school system used it to “preach” their new policies to the faculty branches.

When their use first became prevalent in teaching, I thought that they were the greatest thing since sliced bread. I still use them a lot, not only for course lectures but also for conference presentations, etc. If you suffer from stage-fright, it certainly gives your “audience” something to look at besides yourself! Even more importantly, as the quote suggests, they keep any “lecture” you feel compelled to impose upon your class "simple" by sticking to a planned outline and even entertaining with the ability to use graphics, examples and even “quotations” as writing prompts. I shouldn't even have to make a comparison to the expense or making (and trouble of making) overhead transparencies, the older method.

Apparently, students are now being prepped to . . .

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Posted by lhobbs at 02:39 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (2)

April 13, 2005

Tips & Tricks - Getting Shy Students To Speak!


Have you ever had one of those classes when it seems that silence is the rule of the day? Or maybe you just have a class that is full of shy students, and some days you feel as if you are pulling teeth just to get them to speak!

You know how it goes:

"So, Josie, How was your day today?" "Fine." "Tell me what you did in the morning." "Ate breakfast." "Okay, how about this afternoon?" "Ate lunch." "Did you eat anything interesting?" "No."

See what I mean? Luckily, there are . . .

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